ANDREW COLLINS: FILM OF THE DAY Margin Call★★★★ 11.15pm-12.55am BBC1
The 2008 US financial meltdown was fairly swiftly dramatised on TV, with BBC2’s The Last Days of Lehman Brothers and HBO’s Too Big to Fail. Margin Call, which earned its talented debuting writer/director JC Chandor an Oscar nomination for best screenplay, fictionalises the same crash, focusing on the rapid reaction of a Lehman-like investment bank to the crisis over a 36-hour period. Chandor drives the action by way of a MacGuffin: a USB stick handed to Zachary Quinto’s whizzkid junior by Stanley Tucci’s bitter risk manager, who is being escorted from the building during a cull. News travels up through the ranks until it reaches elusive CEO Jeremy Irons, giving a delicious, pinstriped version of his Pontiff from The Borgias. It’s mostly shot at night in a New York skyscraper, with the claustrophobic, VDU-illuminated isolationism of the financial services industry cleverly implied, while the central disaster is humanised by individual ones – notably Kevin Spacey’s conflicted middle manager, whose dog is dying of cancer.
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